Of Clouds and Sun

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise, Delaware River at West Deptford ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021
Reflecting on the River after the storm, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith

Let me tell you about the clouds, the sun,
the flowers, tall and smiling, the tons
of debris left, the work that must be done.

Reaching ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Now the hawk screeches and broad-wing flies
in concentric circles, as the wind sighs
at summer leaving, but with the prize of bluest skies

Red-Tailed Hawk

September comes, and we are in-between
the muggy green and russet- gold; not yet seen
the frosted crunch, yet geese convene

debating if–or when–to leave.
But I don’t grieve summer’s end, perhaps naïve
I must believe

that it will come again.

And so, I dip my apples, and ponder time,
drink my wine, as the sun sets and moon climbs.
Another year passes, she chimes,

while the stars in constellated chorus sing,
and light scatters from white egret’s wing
in the universe’s laughter, from winter to spring.

Most of you know we had storms, tornados, and flooding in my part of the world last week. Then we got beautiful September weather. We went to Dalton Farms, where they have a sunflower festival going on. Yesterday we went to William Heritage Winery. It was rainy, but we were fine under an umbrella. Part of their weekend sales were going to help Mullica Hill homes and farms damaged in the tornados last week.

Today is Labor Day, and tonight is Rosh Hashanah. I’ve baked some challahs, and we’ll be dipping apples in honey and drinking wine tonight.

Rosh Hashanah Challahs

The Ancient Wanderer

In time’s shadow, I recall the languid summer–
light whispered of love, and if the wind called come,
the moon goddess hummed, why go?
Swim, she said, in these blue waters,
feel the blood-beat beneath your skin,
here far from the ship-crushing waves.
Wait—watch, savor
the sweet unknown.

But Death drooled, raining destruction, and
men with their blood-chants beckoned from afar.

Now in the bitter after of broken dreams, I sigh,
while the fiddler plays yet another tune–
still, the stars sing,
and dawn’s maidens toss gilded rose petals
as I wake,
remembering love’s aches, feeling my skin sun-warmed,
and tasting morning’s honeyed beauty on my tongue.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. It’s only fitting that a poem from her would have a mythic feel.

Yesterday’s Storms

This is how the sky looked in the morning yesterday. It got very dark, then cleared some. Then the really scary round came late in the afternoon.

Yesterday, the weather map was filled with red–
storms, floods, and tornadic activity, the meteorologists said,
as north and south of us, the warnings became real wind reels–

inspiring fear with their acrobatic turns–
and here, the sky darker, we watched the TV screen,
while the heavens grew angry, and the wind yelled at trees.

Our phone alerts went off, and so did theirs–
the women on the screen—who stood, no hair in disarray,
continuing to explain, so patient and with care–I assume–

because we turned them off and left the room.
I wondered then if the basement was a womb or tomb,
as we texted family, and the lights flickered, once, then twice–

but stayed on. That was close, I thought,
and confirmed, a tornado hit nearby, but not
us. Not this time. We returned upstairs

where I made tuna sandwiches for dinner. We watched a show,
and checked on people we know—all OK.

Today, the summer heat is gone, the sky is September blue,
eagles soar over the river, and geese scatter, honking in queues,
as the world turns, the sun burns bright over the rising water.

Hanging in the basement after the tornado warning alert went off.

A quick explanation in hasty verse. Thank you for everyone who checked on me! From about 4 in the afternoon till about 7, we had tornado watches and warnings throughout the Philadelphia area. I don’t normally watch TV news or weather, but conditions were scary. There were tornado sightings north and west of Philadelphia, that moved east, and there were other bands coming from the south from Baltimore, through Delaware, and into New Jersey. Our tornado watch became a warning, but it still seemed kind of far, till it didn’t, and our alerts went off. They went off on the TV meteorologists’ phones, too. We went down to the basement with our devices for about half an hour. We did not have any damage at our house, or any I noticed in my town, except for some branches down. One tornado was close to one of the wineries we go to often. You can see a video here. It’s terrifying! I just looked it up, and we’re about 14 miles away.


There were other tornados near us, too. There has also been flooding. When I walked this morning, it looked like the Delaware had risen enough to leave debris on the sidewalk that the groundskeepers were sweeping up. However, the Schuylkill River crested this morning at 16.35 feet. It hasn’t been that high since 1869. If you don’t know Philadelphia, the Schuylkill River is the river the art museum looks out over, and it runs by 30th Street Station. The major Philadelphia highways are underwater today, and much of the city is flooded. Streams in the area have flooded, too.

Sharing with dVerse Open Link Night.

The Wind Whispers Storms

Clouds over the Delaware River

The wind whispers, storms
over river dreams, the river seems
awake and wild, shimmering—riled
by ancient breath or humming moon.

The wind whispers, storms
too soon the blue, the hue
of water-sky. So high the ospreys fly
through shifting clouds, the rustling loud

as the wind whispers, storms,
through trees, bent but proud.
The squirrels chitter, the deer skitter,
while blue becomes slate grey–

they hide or stay.
The wind whispers storms,
but the sun, bright-rayed
comes out to play.

And the wind whispers,
the storms have gone away.

Ingrid is doing a dVerse prompt on oral poetry. I’m not sure that I did it exactly. I often read my poetry out loud and adjust it. This is not the best recording, but here it is. 😀 I finally figured out how to post it here.

Time Keeping

Wildflowers and Driftwood, the Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Monday Morning Musings:

Across the morning sky, all the birds are leaving
How can they know that it’s time to go?
–Sandy Denny, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”

Time is being and being
time, it is all one thing,
the shining, the seeing,
the dark abounding.
–from “Hymn to Time” by Ursula Le Guin

Summer sings on robin trill,
soars on broad-flapped egret’s wing
across the river’s wide expanse,
explodes on thunderclap,
and floats on driftwood
under a laden, leaded sky.

Egret flying above Delaware River

The clocks tick tock, go and stop,
but time ripples, bends, and plops,
to circle through stars and seasons.

Where’s the early promise gone, and why?
The river doesn’t answer, merely flows
with time

in rabbit hops and turkey trots, in smooth deer grace
or hawk’s lazy circling trace across the clouded sky–

the slow descent of morning moon, her song
a sigh, carried high by crow, who never shy,
announces to the world that summer is almost done–
but not quite

Crow and Morning Moon ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Crow in a Sycamore Tree, ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

whispers the butterfly. I flutter and create a storm,
it circles round, and flowers born—

Hope and Determination. Wildflower among the rocks. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

so, life goes on through seasons fast or plodding,
you remember both tears and laughter—
the sorrow of loss, the joy of what comes after—
memories flavored by love and friendship—savored–
reflections from the past.

Stream of Reflections ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021


This and That:
We’ve had a particularly muggy summer—high dewpoints and humidity (as I write, the dewpoint is 73 and the humidity is 93%). Our air conditioner has been running nearly continuously for the past month. We have another chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. However, we are not facing a hurricane. My thoughts are with friends in New Orleans.

On Tuesday, we went to Valley Green Inn by the Wissahickon Creek. It was my mom’s birthday, and we used to take her mom there for her birthday, until she couldn’t manage it. It was a very hot day, but quite pleasant eating on the porch shaded by the woods. Then we took a walk on Forbidden Drive. On our drive to Valley Green we listened to an interview on the radio with a man who held the marvelous job title of Curator of Timekeeping. He’s written a history of clocks.

Yesterday, we went to a wine festival (Wine Down the Summer at Riverwinds). We’ve attended it in previous years, though it was not held last summer because of the pandemic. We did not do any tastings, as we were not certain about weather or crowds and didn’t want to purchase expensive tickets we wouldn’t use, but we bought wine, brought food, and so, we spent the afternoon with dear friends eating (a lot), sipping wine, talking, and listening to the band. It was a lovely afternoon.

Some of my friends might enjoy Jennifer Ryan’s The Kitchen Front, a novel about a cooking competition sponsored by a BBC radio program during WWII. Like her other books, which I also enjoyed, it’s a sort of cozy historical novel. I really liked it—feel-good, but not sappy.

“A charming tale that will satiate a lot of different tastes: historical fiction lovers, cooking competition fans, anyone who revels in girl-power lit. . . . . This story had me so hooked, I literally couldn’t put it down to cook.”—NPR

Most of you know we watch and enjoy some pretty quirky shows and movies with subtitles, if you do, too, you might enjoy Post Mortem, a new Norwegian dramedy on Netflix. It was fun–only 6 episodes, but hopefully a second season is in the works.


And the new Netflix show The Chair with Sandra Oh is also lot of fun—we watched it in two nights.
You can tell I have eclectic tastes: we’re still watching Dexter, and I’m also re-watching Downton Abbey on Netflix (Mary and Matthew engaged again, swoon).

Windswept

Windswept by John William Waterhouse

Beauty beats with aching heart–
beneath the blue of summer sky
tender-veined leaves tremble
at the wuthering wind,

yet, if it moans—
recalling winter’s wayward sway
to black and grey–

let it take you through dream-time shadows
to the after—and again–
the languid bright of summer days,
red-berried and green,
bird-voiced harmony in the light.

I had to struggle to get a poem today from the Oracle. As usual though, she knows what’s going on. Even while it’s still hot and sticky, there are traces of autumn in the wind and in the shorter days.

How Would I Tell You?

Early morning light on the Delaware River. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

How would I tell you—
the beauty of the morning sky,
the bird-swept clouds, the hummed goodbye
of moon still high

there, my eyes
reflect the shine. To be or not,
is not my question–here I am, not angsty youth,
but rather longer in the tooth—

how would I explain,
how the colors fill me
with joy and light—
grey or bright, the taste, the sight
tawny gold, rose, and peach, the foamy white
of churning waves?
The winter river’s cool mint blue?
The delight

of it–me and you.

My thoughts—my mind’s eye–
how do I explain? There is no why—
only what is
the beauty of the sky, the light,
the birds in flight

winging, singing
star-breathed dreams, the colored streams
web-woven in my head, released someday to fly
in iridescent blues and greens—peacock-eyed—
around the sun, then seeded in the ground–

how would I tell you any of this–
thoughts, if not profound, yet unbound—the bliss.

This is the kind of stuff that goes through my head, so I guess it can be considered a soliloquy for Victoria’s prompt at dVerse.

Hearts at the River’s Edge

Driftwood, Sunrise on the Delaware River

The earth murmurs ancient heart-songs.
Hear them in root-rush and rock-rhythms
tapped by sea-spray rainbows.
The eagle’s whistle slices the peached-tipped clouds–
life and death balanced. Hand-in-hand, we watch the light glide through
love-grief fault lines, as the ghosts dance at the river’s edge.

A quadrille (a poem of exactly 44 words) for dVerse where De asks us to use the word heart. I could have gone in so many directions!

To Every Season

Monday Morning Musings:

“For nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.”
–Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby

Heron at dawn. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield.

I remember that spring, the winter of despair,
the flow of river into spring again

and again, the earth blooms,
and birds come and go, soaring into clouds

that move across the sky–
the constancy of sun and moon, the ephemerality of life,

insistent green sprigs emerging from driftwood,
bleached and beached.

Driftwood with new growth.

Each day the same and different,
each sunrise a threshold to the unknown.

Driftwood, Sunrise on the Delaware River

In dreams, my mother asks for chocolate–
she says there’s more for them that wants.

This is how it is—
this is who we who are, full of ifs and when

there is both laughter and the aches
of time and memory–

we are here. Now
I watch the bees,

and I remember too late,
to tell them my secrets and wishes–

but perhaps they already know,
telling their own dreams in buzz waltz,

remembering a day of endless sweet nectar,
and brilliant colors that we cannot see,

yet can imagine, reflected
in a sunrise yet to come.

Sunrise with Cloud Reflections. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. August 2021

This week has been a strange and strangely beautiful week of clouds, rain, and sunshine. I suppose that’s how August is. We’re supposed to get a return of the high heat and humidity. Yesterday, some family members got together at my sister’s house for the first time since the pandemic. It wasn’t everyone, and even though it was right before my mom’s birthday, it wasn’t really a memorial, though we did have a Sunday brunch fish tray, with fruit, and my Mandelbrot and brownies for dessert. For those who don’t know, we used to have lox and other smoked fish with cream cheese and bagels–plus a whole lot more–fairly often when I was growing up. Every so often, my grandfather, my father’s father, would bring the delicatessen food, which also included herring, rye bread, and coffee cake, to my mom’s (even though my parents were divorced). My mom would supply the juice, coffee, boiled red potatoes, and sometimes I’d bake something. Then, it became a special family brunch occasion because it has become very expensive, plus more difficult to get together. Mindful of the Delta strain–even though we’re all vaccinated–we stayed masked indoors, except for when eating—and we tried to stay far apart then. Fortunately, the weather cleared up enough for us to go outside for dessert. My parents were there in spirit and ash.

When we got home, we took a brief walk, and pulling into the driveway were surprised by this.

Literal deer in the headlights.

In Harmony

Peder Severin Krøyer [Public domain] “Summer Evening at Skagen beach, the artist and his wife”

If I listen, lonely
in the long blanket of night—
the moon sings, murmuring secrets,
gathered deep in tree roots
to flow through green tendrils,
and flowering pink–
recalled by birds, and bee-danced along paths,
to the wind-rustled sea.
There, in after-breaths, the world walks on soft blue,
in harmony sky and water, for a moment,
sublime.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.